August 2017
Farm & Field

Protect Your Backyard Poultry Flock

Follow these biosecurity measures to guard against avian flu.


It is important to keep vigilant watch over your backyard flock and immediately report symptoms.


Even though avian flu isn’t in the news like it once was, don’t think you can breathe a sigh of relief yet. With confirmed cases in Alabama earlier in the year, the need for biosecurity remains high. Avian flu has been found in wild birds as well as backyard and commercial poultry flocks. While biosecurity is a familiar topic with large commercial producers, owners of small backyard flocks need to familiarize themselves as well.

Avian flu is not only a danger to birds but is potentially a concern for humans, as well. The chances for the virus to infect humans are low, but still exist; so don’t just casually dismiss symptoms. Symptoms in humans include cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, and in some cases a mild eye infection. If you develop a fever, cough and body aches, immediately see your doctor and be sure to inform him or her if you are in regular contact with poultry.

Unfortunately, the chances of the recent avian flu outbreak continuing to spread to other areas of the United States is very high. For this reason, it is important to keep vigilant watch over your birds and immediately report symptoms to your local or state veterinarian, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, toll-free at 1-866-536-7593.

In order to protect your birds, good biosecurity will be key. The following practices are recommended to help limit the spread of avian flu:

1.  Restrict access to your property and birds from wild animals and other humans. Remember, other animals such as dogs, cats and rodents can also spread the disease.

2.  Prevent interactions with wild birds. This means limiting or totally eliminating free ranging.

3.  Carefully wash your hands and change shoes and clothes after contact with your birds. It is best to have one set of shoes and clothes that you only wear into housing areas and you immediately remove upon leaving the coop, pen, etc.

4.  Do not permit bird-owning friends to come into contact with your birds. Also, do not share lawn and garden equipment, tools or poultry supplies from other bird owners.

5.  Regularly clean and disinfect areas where birds have access. Avian flu viruses are inactivated by heat and drying, and are very sensitive to most disinfectants and detergents (for example, Dow Chemical’s GS2 or Preserve’s Synergize). Be sure to clear away organic matter before disinfection for best results.

6.  Do not purchase birds or eggs from unknown sources.

7.  Report the symptoms listed or unexpected deaths to your local or state veterinarian, or USDA.

In addition to the aforementioned tips on biosecurity, you can help protect your birds by providing them proper nutrition to keep their immune system fully functioning. The SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Block is a highly concentrated supplement to help provide essential minerals and vitamins, including Sel-Plex organic selenium yeast, that are critical for a strong immune system and healthy, happy birds. Sel-Plex delivers selenium in a form that can be readily stored in tissues. Selenium is a critical nutrient allowing animals to optimize health status during periods of increased demand.

SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Blocks also contain Bio-Mos for gut health. Bio-Mos promotes good gut bacteria and builds defenses, thereby optimizing efficiency and supporting bird performance and chick quality. SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Blocks supply extra protein and energy that may be missing from the diet due to decreased free ranging opportunities. Since these convenient blocks are available 24/7, birds can access them day or night and get what they need when they need it.


In summary, avian flu is a very real threat for backyard flocks. Be vigilant for the symptoms of this disease and implement biosecurity practices to help lower your risk. SWEETLIX Farm Flock Supplement Blocks can be a part of your overall management plan to keep birds fortified nutritionally to help keep them healthy and happy. For more information, visit your local Quality Co-op location or


Sel-Plexand Bio-Mos are registered trademarks of Alltech.
SWEETLIX is a registered trademark of Ridley USA Inc.

Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations ( You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about SWEETLIX mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep and wildlife. References available upon request.